Cultural functions of translation

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In addition, the coverage in the dictionary is somewhatskewed: aLatinatetermlikefranconym is listed, for example, but there is no coinage for Native American orAfrican American names. The book concludes with a glossary of Greek and Latin elements and a select bibliography of largely popular works on names and naming. Here, L, president of the American Name Society, has compiled a useful bibliography containing over entries grouped into 47 categories with about pages devoted to material on ethnic names and naming.

Entries are well-annotated, and sources range from work by Einar Haugen, Franz Boas, and Margaret Bryant to recent PhD dissertations to popular books on names. Also represented are such items as The officialpreppy handbook, at one extreme and CIA reports e. The book concludes with an author index and a subject index Of the two books, L's is by far the more useful and would be a good addition to any library, personal or institutional.

R's work falls short, illustrating a near-fetishization of superfluous naming that is disappointing. Each paper is followed by a transcript of the debate the paper elicited. In her preface, 'Editorial' , Schaffner makes the point that inasmuch as translations are vital to intercultural communication, a translation ofa source text must be fully intelligible to the members of the society served by the translation.

In the first paper, Venuti gives several examples, in some detail, of 'how translation forms particular cultural identities and. One of his examples has to do with the interpretation of Greek tragedy. Until the publication of John Jones's OnAristotle and Greek tragedy in , individualistic interpretations ofAristotle's Poetics were imposed on the text by scholarly translators, whereas, in Jones's opinion, 'the centre of gravity of Aristotle 's terms is situational and not personal' The long debate , preceded by Venuti's preliminary remarks , brings up many interesting points and offers additional examples, grouped together under such headings as the concept of ethnocentricity , foreignizing vs.

Many examples are given to illustrate the problems inherent in the translation of advertising. One short example: a translator should know to what extent a culture tolerates directness. These two strategies can be found especially in the translation of literary texts. Domesticating means bringing the foreign culture closer to the reader in the target culture, making the text recognisable and familiar. Foreignising, on the other hand, means taking the reader over to the foreign culture, making him or her see the cultural and linguistic differences.

Venuti argues that in domesticating foreign texts, translators were in fact maintaining the literary standards of the social elite while constructing cultural identities for their nations on the basis of archaic foreign cultures. A foreignising strategy seeks to evoke a sense of the foreign.

Humanities Forum: Translation and Cultural Exchange

This strategy necessarily answers to a domestic situation, where it may be designed to serve a cultural and political agenda. Macura , for example, has shown that 19th century Czech culture virtually 'cloned' itself on the German model, and that translation thus actually 'constituted' a culture. Of course, the culture to which the translator belongs is also important. Venuti's discussion usually assumes the translator to be a member of the target culture: only in these circumstances is the distinction between foreignising and domesticating translation strategies clearly understandable.

That is, the translator is a member of the domestic society for which the source culture is foreign, is the 'other'. In his preliminary remarks, Venuti complains that 'the fact of translation is erased by suppressing the linguistic and cultural differences of the foreign text, assimilating it to dominant values in the target-language culture, making it recognisable and therefore seemingly untranslated.


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With this domestication the translated text passes for the original'. However, these critical remarks would have to be relativised. The role of the text type, the genre, as well as the purpose of the target text are factors that decisively influence the final linguistic form and the lay-out of the target text. A distinction can be made between more or less conventionalised text types that exist in both cultures, and text types which are introduced into the target culture only through translation, for example Bible translations that gave many languages their first written form.

In the case of translating text types that are highly conventionalised, the conventions of the target culture have to be taken into account, because in these cases the target addressees expect to read a text in a recognisable, familiar form. A case in point would be instruction manuals, for which domestication would be the only effective strategy unless the purpose, the skopos of the target text, is to show what the source text looks like.

On the other hand, literary texts, as a rule, do not conform strictly to predictable norms and conventions and it is mainly with reference to literary texts that foreignisation versus domestication has traditionally been discussed cf. Auf der einen Seite ruft ihm der Dichter zu: habe Ehrfurcht vor meinem Eigentum; nimm mir nichts, aber schiebe mir auch nichts unter!

On one side, the author calls out to him: respect my property, don't take anything away from me, and don't attribute anything falsely to me. On the other side, the audience demands: respect our taste, give us only what we like and how we like it]. The term translation strategy is also often used synonymously with translation principle, translation method or translation technique.

Categories here may be literal versus free translation, or principle of transparent translation versus principle of equal effect of source text and target text. The treatment of specific translation problems, for example how to deal with wordplays or ambiguity, how to translate proper names, how to translate metaphors, or how to overcome lexical gaps, are also sometimes discussed under the heading of translation strategies, although the term translation technique might be more appropriate. The question of how one should translate has been asked again and again, and it has been answered differently in the literature.

Savory 54 has summarised the seemingly contradictory alternative demands made of translation and stated them in the form of simple juxtapositions: 1 A translation must give the words of the original. A strategy may best be seen as the idea of an agent about the best way to act in order to reach a goal. As soon as we ask what the purpose of a translation is, and who it is for, reformulation, paraphrase, textual explication, and so on, come in naturally as part of translation cf. Which activities are truly translational activities, and which ones are outside the realm of a translator's work?

Where can we draw a line? This becomes especially obvious in the field of translating advertising, which seems to be a borderline case between translation and marketing. Only then can they successfully realise their role as interlingual and intercultural mediators. She presents a number of points a translator should know which have not traditionally been seen as specific tasks of a translator.

These points are that translators need to understand the basics of marketing and legal jurisdictions; they should know that many cultures have taboos concerning references to sex and alcohol, and they should be aware of standardisations or regulations. When all such aspects are included in translation, a theoretical consequence would be that for explaining this phenomenon it would not be necessary to make a distinction between translation and adaptation.

Being aware of what is expected of translators will also have consequences for translator training a topic which was discussed at length at one of the two CILS seminars. Translators cannot obviously be prepared for each individual translation problem they may have to face. But what can be taught are generalisable translation strategies and translation techniques.

Strategies have to do with problem-solving and decision-making. Decision-making in translation is largely subject to normative constraints resulting from text-type conventions or norms within the target culture. Such norms can be taught and learned and put to use.

In addition, translators have to be aware of the fact that cultures not only express ideas differently, but they also shape concepts and texts differently. The translator, as the expert communicator, is 'at the crucial centre of a long chain of communication from original initiator to ultimate receiver of a message: a human link across a cultural frontier' Chesterman, This metaphor also stresses the ethical responsibility of the translator, an aspect that is of particular relevance for both papers.

But translators have an important role to play, for example as 'rewriters' of works of literature. What I should have known now became abundantly clear to me: translators are the keenest of readers. They discover all the author's tricks, notice when he cheats and are aware of his absurdities. Grass, 19 In the context of conservative versus transgressive effects of translations and of ethics in translation, Venuti introduces the concepts of ethnocentric and non-ethnocentric translation. He is very much in favour of the latter since it promises 'a greater openness to cultural differences, whether they are located abroad or at home [and] they may [thus] well be worth the risks.

Only then will the role and the status of the translator and of translation studies as an academic discipline be fully recognised in society. Who chooses the cargo and the crew? Who decides about the destination of the journey? This parts of the metaphor relates to conventions of use and to text typologies, to macro- and micro-levels of the text. The conditions of the water and the weather have to be taken into account.

This relates to the propositional content and the information arrangement in the text as well as to text comprehension. What effects does it have? Are ship, crew and cargo welcome and accepted in the new culture? All these questions are relevant for translation, and the answers we find to each of them decide about the translation strategies and techniques to be employed in each individual case. The huge number of texts that are translated annually throughout the world is evidence that translation is a vital element in fostering intercultural communication.

The New Courant 1, Grass, G. Translation 12, Macura, V. Bassnett and A. Lefevere eds Translation, History and Culture pp. Pinter: London and New York. Neubert, A. Nida, E. Savory, T. London: Cape. Snell-Hornby ed. Translation Studies: An Interdiscipline pp. Philadelphia, New York: Benjamins. Schleiermacher, F. Snell-Hornby, M.

Darmstadt: Deutsche Buchgemeinschaft. Venuti, L. Vermeer, H. Coulthard ed. Weck, G. Translations can have conservative or transgressive effects. Often the translation is erased by suppressing the linguistic and cultural differences of the foreign text, assimilating it to dominant values in the target-language culture, making it recognisable and therefore seemingly untranslated. Foreignising and domesticating are seen as the two main translation strategies. By examining several translation projects from different periods it is shown how translation forms particular cultural identities and maintains them with a relative degree of coherence and homogeneity.

The examples fall into the broad category of literary texts. Particular consideration is given to the ethnocentric canon of Japanese fiction in English which reflects a domestic nostalgia for an exotic pre-war Japan; English translations of Aristotle's Poetics and their effects on classical scholarship; and the controversies surrounding Jerome's translation of the Old Testament in the early Christian Church.

The paper concludes with a consideration of how translation creates possibilities for cultural resistance, innovation, and change. Introduction Translation proceeds according to a double bind that gives it the potential to produce far-reaching social effects. As a rule, the translator aims to communicate a foreign text, so that the work of translation is governed by a notion of equivalence that is developing and variable, an equivalence to an interpretation of a foreign form and meaning, usually worked out in the translating process and rarely articulated independently of it.

Yet because this interpretation is determined by various domestic factors most decisively, the translator's knowledge of the foreign language and culture, as well as their relation to domestic cultural values a translation always communicates a foreign text that is partial and altered, supplemented with features peculiar to the translating language.

In fact, the goal of communication can be achieved only when the foreign text is no longer inscrutably foreign, but made comprehensible in a distinctively domestic form. Translation is thus an inevitable domestication, wherein the foreign text is inscribed with linguistic and cultural values that are intelligible to specific domestic constituencies. This process of inscription operates at every stage in the production, circulation, and reception of the translation. It is initiated by the very choice of a foreign text to translate, always an exclusion of other foreign texts and literatures which answers to particular domestic interests.

And it is further complicated by the various forms in which the translation is published, reviwed, read, and taught, producing cultural and political effects that vary with different institutional contexts and social positions. By far the most consequential of these effects, I want to argue, is the formation of cultural identities. Translation wields enormous power in constructing representations of foreign cultures. The selection of foreign texts and the development of translation strategies can establish peculiarly domestic canons for foreign literatures, canons that conform to domestic aesthetic values and therefore reveal exclusions and admissions, centres and peripheries that deviate from those current in the foreign language.

Foreign literatures tend to be dehistoricised by the domestic selection of texts for translation, removed from the foreign literary traditions where they draw their significance; and foreign texts are often rewritten to conform to styles and themes that currently prevail in domestic literatures.

These effects may well assume national proportions: translation can create stereotypes for foreign countries that reflect domestic cultural and political values and thereby exclude debates and conflicts that do not appear to serve domestic agendas. Translation is instrumental in shaping domestic attitudes towards foreign countries, attaching esteem or stigma to specific ethnicities, races, and nationalities, able to foster respect for cultural difference or hatred based on ethnocentrism, racism, or patriotism.

In the long run, translation figures in geopolitical relations by establishing the cultural grounds of diplomacy, reinforcing alliances, antagonisms, and hegemonies between nations. Yet since translations are usually designed for specific cultural constituencies, they set in motion a process of identity formation that is double-edged.

Cultural Functions of Translation: Sustainable Development in the Context of Globalization

As translation constructs a domestic representation for a foreign text and culture, it simultaneously constructs a domestic subject, a position of intelligibility that is also an ideological position, shaped by the codes and canons, interests and agendas of certain domestic social groups. Circulating in the church, the state, and the school, a translation can be powerful in maintaining or revising the hierarchy of values in the translating language. A calculated choice of foreign text and translation strategy can change or consolidate literary canons, conceptual paradigms, research methodologies, clinical techniques, and commercial practices in the domestic culture.

Whether the effects of a translation prove to be conservative or transgressive depends fundamentally on the discursive strategies developed by the translator, but also on the various factors in their reception, including the page design and cover art of the printed book, the advertising copy, the opinions of reviewers, and the uses made of the translation in cultural and social institutions, how it is read and taught. Such factors mediate the impact of any translation by assisting in the positioning of domestic subjects, equipping them with specific reading practices, affiliating them with specific cultural values and constituencies, reinforcing or crossing institutional limits.

I want to develop these observations by examining several translation projects from different periods, past and present. The aim is to consider how translation forms particular cultural identities and maintains them with a relative degree of coherence and homogeneity, but also how it creates possibilities for cultural resistance, innovation, and change at any historical moment. For, notwithstanding the fact that translation is summoned to address the linguistic and cultural difference of a foreign text, it can just as effectively foster or suppress heterogeneity in the domestic culture.

The Representation of Foreign Cultures In the classical scholar John Jones published a study that challenged the dominant interpretation of Greek tragedy, which, he argued, was not only articulated in academic literary criticism, but inscribed in scholarly editions and translations of Aristotle's Poetics. In Jone's view, 'the Poetics which we have appropriated to ourselves derives jointly from modern classical scholarship, and from Romanticism' Jones, Guided by a Romantic concept of individualism, in which human agency is seen as selfdetermining, modern scholars have given a psychological cast to Aristotle's concept of tragedy, shifting the emphasis from the action to the hero and the audience's emotional response.

This individualistic interpretation, Jones felt, obscures the fact that 'the centre of gravity of Aristotle's terms is situational and not personal', that ancient Greek culture conceived of human subjectivity as socially determinate, 'realised in action and recognised intelligibly differentiated through its truth to type' and 'status' Jones, 16, Jones's study was favourably reviewed on publication, despite some complaints about his unfamiliar 'jargon' and 'a certain opacity of language', and over the next two decades it gained enormous authority in classical scholarship Gellie, ; Burnett, By it had established a 'new orthodoxy' on the question of characterisation in Aristotle's Poetics and Greek tragedy, overcoming the long dominance of the hero-centred approach and receiving both assent and further development in the work of leading scholars Taplin, ; Goldhill, Jones's study proved so effective in causing a disciplinary revision partly because he wrote critiques on the standard translations of Aristotle's treatise.

He shrewdly demonstrated that scholarly translators imposed the individualistic interpretation on the Greek text through various lexical choices. From Ingram Bywater's version he quoted the passage in which Aristotle discusses hamartia, the error of judgement made by characters in tragedies.

Jones read the English translation symptomatically, locating 'discrepancies' or deviations from the Greek that reveal the work of the translator's ideology, Romantic individualism: There are three discrepancies to be noted between Bywater's translation and the Greek original.

Where he has 'a good man' the Greek has 'good men'; where he has 'a bad man' the Greek has 'bad men'; and where he renders 'the change in the hero's fortunes' the Greek has 'the change of fortune'. These two alterations help pave the way for the third, which is, in the whole range of its implications, momentous. Jones, Jones was careful to stress that the discrepancies in Bywater's translation are not errors, but calculated choices designed 'to make Aristotle's indisputable meaning plainer than it would otherwise have been' Jones, Nonetheless, to make the meaning plain was to make it anachronistic by assimilating the Greek text to a modern cultural concept, 'the now settled habit in which we see action issuing from a solitary focus of consciousness secret, inward, interesting' Jones, The same Romantic inscription is evident in scholarly renderings of the Greek word mellein.

Jones pointed out that this verb can have several meanings, including 'to be about to do', 'to be on the point of doing', and 'to intend doing'. Both Bywater and Gerald Else made choices that psychologise Aristotle's concept of tragic action by introducing intentionality and introspection: 'intending to kill', 'intending to betray', 'meditating some deadly injury' Jones, The case of Jones shows that, despite strict canons of accuracy, even academic translations construct distinctly domestic representations of foreign texts and cultures.

And these representations, assigned varying degrees of institutional authority, may reproduce or revise dominant conceptual paradigms in academic disciplines. Translations can precipitate a disciplinary revision because the representations they construct are never seamless or perfectly consistent, but often contradictory, assembled from heterogeneous cultural materials, domestic and foreign, past and present. Thus, Jones was able to detect what he called 'discrepancies' in Bywater's translation, discontinuities with the Greek text that signalled the intervention of a modern individualistic ideology.


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Yet disciplines also change because competing representations emerge to challenge those in dominance. Although Jones undoubtedly illuminated neglected and distorted aspects of Aristotle's Poetics and Greek tragedy, he was himself translating and therefore constructing a domestic representation that was also anachronistic to some extent, even though more compelling than the current academic orthodoxy. As reviewers suggested, Jones's concept of determinate subjectivity reveals an 'existentialist manner of thinking' that enabled him both to question the individualism of classical scholarship and to develop an interdisciplinary method of reading, not psychological but 'sociological' and 'anthropological' Bacon, 56; Burnett, ; Lucas, At points, Jones's critique of the orthodox reading clearly resembles the thinking of philosophers like Nietzsche who were important for the emergence of existentialism.

Jones's study was able to establish a new orthodoxy in classical scholarship because it met scholarly standards for textual evidence and critical argument, but also because it reflected the rise of existentialism as a powerful current in post-World War II culture. His critique of the authoritative English translations, along with his own versions of the Greek text, brought about a disciplinary revision by importing cultural values, domestic and foreign, from outside the boundaries of the discipline notably a concept of determinate subjectivity that was elaborated in German and French philosophers like Heidegger and Sartre and given international currency through translations.

Thus, when an academic translation constructs a domestic representation of a foreign text and culture, this representation can alter the institution where it is housed because disciplinary boundaries are permeable. Although defined by precise qualifications and practices and by a hierarchical arrangement of themes and methodologies, an academic discipline does not reproduce them in an untroubled fashion because it is prone to conceptual infiltrations from other fields and disciplines, both in and out of the academy.

And since these boundaries can be crossed, the traffic in cultural values can take diverse forms, not only circulating among academic disciplines, as in the case of Jones, but also moving from one cultural institution to another, as when the academy influences the nature and volume of translations issued by the publishing industry. Here a specific cultural constituency controls the representation of foreign literatures for other constituencies in the domestic culture, privileging certain domestic values to the exclusion of others and establishing a canon of foreign texts that is necessarily partial because it serves certain domestic interests.

A case in point is the translation of modern Japanese fiction into English. As Edward Fowler demonstrates, American publishers like Grove Press, Alfred Knopf, and New Directions, noted for their concern with literary as well as commercial values, issued many translations of Japanese novels and story collections during the s and s. Yet their choices were very selective, focusing on relatively few writers, mainly Tanizaki Jun'ichiro, Kawabata Yasunari, and Mishima Yukio. By the late s a reviewer who is also a poet and translator could say that 'for the average Western reader, [Kawabata's novel] Snow Country is perhaps what we think of as typically "Japanese": elusive, misty, inconclusive' Kizer, The same cultural image was assumed by another, more self-conscious reviewer, who, when confronted with an English version of a comic Japanese novel, wondered sceptically: 'Could it be that the novel of delicacy, taciturnity, elusiveness, and languishing melancholy traits we have come to think of as characteristically Japanese is less characteristic than we thought?

Moreover, the cultural stereotyping performed by this canon extended beyond English, since English translations of Japanese fiction were routinely translated into other European languages during the same period. In effect, 'the tastes of Englishspeaking readers have by and large dictated the tastes of the entire Western world with regard to Japanese fiction' Fowler, Among the many remarkable things about this canon formation is the fact that the English-speaking tastes in question belonged to a limited group of readers, primarily academic specialists in Japanese literature associated with trade publishers.

The translations of Tanizaki, Kawabata, and Mishima were produced by university professors such as Howard Hibbett, Donald Keene, Ivan Morris, and Edward Seidensticker who advised editors on which Japanese texts to publish in English Fowler, 12n The various interests of these academic translators and their editors literary, ethnographic, economic were decisively shaped by an encounter with Japan around the time of the Second World War, and the canon they established constituted a nostalgic image of a lost past.

Not only did the translated fiction often refer to traditional Japanese culture, but some novels lamented the disruptive social changes wrought by military conflict and western influence; Japan was represented as 'an exoticised, aestheticised, and quintessentially foreign land quite antithetical to its pre-war image of a bellicose and imminently threatening power' Fowler, 3, his emphasis.

The nostalgia expressed by the canon was distinctly American, not necessarily shared by Japanese readers. Keene, for example, a critic and translator of considerable authority in English-language culture, disagreed on both literary and political grounds with the lukewarm Japanese reception of Tanizaki's novels. Thus, the nostalgic image projected by the canon could carry larger, geopolitical implications: 'the aestheticised realms [in the novels selected for translation] provided exactly the right image of Japan at a time when that country was being transformed, almost overnight in historical terms, from a mortal enemy during the Pacific War to an indispensable ally during the Cold War era' Fowler, 6.

The English-language canon of Japanese fiction functioned as a domestic cultural support for American diplomatic relations with Japan, which were also designed to contain Soviet expansionism in the east. This case shows that even when translation projects reflect the interests of a specific cultural constituency here an elite group of academic specialists and literary publishers the resulting image of the foreign culture may still achieve national dominance, accepted by many readers in the domestic culture whatever their social position may be.

The Japanese novels that were not consistent with the post-war academic canon, because they were comic, for example, or represented a more contemporary, westernised Japan these novels were not translated into English or, if translated, were positioned on the fringes of English-language literature, published by smaller, more specialised publishers Kodansha International, Charles E. Tuttle with limited distribution Fowler, Moreover, the canon did not undergo any significant change during the s and s. The volume of English-language translations suffered a general decline, weakening any effort to widen the range of Japanese novels available in English versions; in the hierarchy of languages translated into English, Japanese ranked sixth after French, German, Russian, Spanish, and Italian Venuti, 13; Grannis, Perhaps more importantly, the institutional programs developed to improve cross-cultural exchange between the United States and Japan continued to be dominated by 'a professional group of university professors and corporate executives the latter mostly publishers and booksellers men whose formative experiences have been shaped by the Second World War' Fowler, As a result, the lists of Japanese texts proposed for English translation simply reinforced the established criteria for canonicity, including a special emphasis on the war era and reflecting a 'concern with "high culture" and with the experiences of Japan's intellectual and social elite' Fowler, What this suggests is that translation projects can effect a change in a domestic representation of a foreign culture, not simply when they revise the canons of the most influential cultural constituency, but when another constituency in a different social situation produces and responds to the translations.

By the end of the s the academic canon of Japanese literature was being questioned by a new generation of English-language writers and readers. Born after the Pacific war and under the global reach of American hegemony, they were sceptical of 'the down-dragging melancholy of so much Japanese fiction' and more receptive to different forms and themes, including comic narratives that display the deep entrenchment of western cultural influences in Japan Leithauser, In , for example, Alfred Birnbaum, an American journalist who was born in and has lived in Japan since childhood, edited an anthology entitled Monkey Brain Sushi.

As the sensational title suggests, Birnbaum sought to challenge the academic canon and reach a wider English-language audience with the most recent Japanese fiction. His introduction makes clear that he deliberately avoided the 'staples of the older diet', like Tanizaki, Kawabata, and Mishima, in favour of writers who 'were all born and raised in an Americanised post-war Japan' and whose books are 'what most people really read' Birnbaum, 1; for a similar translation project, see Mitsios, Unlike the older anthologies that established the academic canon e. The early indications are that anthologies like Monkey Brain Sushi and Helen Mitsios's New Japanese Voices have indeed reformed the canon of Japanese fiction for a popular readership: not only have these books been reprinted in paperback editions, but in their wake several novels by young Japanese writers have been published in English with critical and commercial success.

Perhaps the clearest sign of the change is Banana Yoshimoto's Kitchen , which was excerpted in Mitsios's anthology.

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Yoshimoto was published by one of the presses important for creating the academic canon, Grove, but not on the advice of academic specialists: the editor learned of it through an Italian translation a change from the period when English was the language through which Japanese fiction was disseminated in European cultures Harker, 4.

The two pieces in Kitchen, a novella and a short story, present Japanese characters who are youthful and extremely westernised, traits that were repeatedly cited as sources of fascination in the reviews. Interestingly, some reviewers assimilated the title piece to aspects of Japanese fiction highlighted by the academic canon. In a study of the various factors determining the production and reception of Kitchen, Jaime Harker attributes its success to the creation of a 'middle-brow' audience for Japanese fiction, an audience that is rather different from the elite academic specialists who formerly selected the texts for translation, even if it still betrays the residual influence of their decades-long dominance.

In Harker's view, the appeal of the translation was due to a writer who explodes the image of Japanese literature as inscrutable and uninteresting with subject matter which is upbeat, vaguely titillating, and accessibly philosophical; offhand references to American popular culture which create a sense of familiarity for English readers; an accessible yet still 'oriental' translation; and skilful packaging and marketing.

The success of Kitchen, ultimately, comes from both its effective utilisation, and deformation, of common cultural tropes of 'Japanese-ness'. Harker, 12 If the new wave of translated Japanese fiction brings about an enduring canon reformation, it too may harden into a cultural stereotype of Japan especially if Japanese remains low in the hierarchy of languages translated into English and a narrow range of Japanese texts is made available. Obviously this stereotype will differ from its predecessor in being neither exoticised nor aestheticised, and it will carry rather different geopolitical implications from those that obtained in the post-World War II period.

Since the new fiction projects the image of a highly Americanised Japanese culture, at once youthful and energetic, it implicitly answers to current American anxieties about Japan's ascendancy in the global economy, offering an explanation that is reassuringly familiar and not a little selfcongratulatory: the image permits Japanese economic power to be seen as an effect of American cultural domination on a later, postwar generation. The Japanese title of Yoshimoto's novella is in fact a Japanised English word, transliterated as Kitchen Hanson, The image of contemporary Japanese culture projected by the new fiction may also be traced with a nostalgia for a lost past, although a past that is American, not Japanese, the period from the mids to the late s, when American hegemony had yet to be decisively challenged at home or abroad.

The Creation of Domestic Subjects In the foregoing cases, not only do translation projects construct uniquely domestic representations of foreign cultures, but since these projects address specific cultural constituencies, they are simultaneously engaged in the formation of domestic identities. When Jones's existentialist-informed translations of Aristotle displaced the dominant academic reading, they acquired such institutional authority as to become a professional qualification for classical scholars. Specialists in Aristotle and Greek tragedy are expected to demonstrate familiarity with Jones's study in teaching and research publications.

Accordingly, Jones rates a mention in introductory surveys of criticism, whether they are devoted to the tragic genre or specific tragedians e. Buxton, He has also influenced research in such other areas of classical literature as Homeric poetry Redfield, Similarly, the post-war canon of Japanese fiction in English translation shaped the preferences of both the publishers who invested in elite foreign literature and the readers interested in it.

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Familiarity with Tanizaki, Kawabata, and Mishima became the mark of a literary taste that was both discriminating and knowledgeable, backed by scholarly credentials. Of course, the cultural agents who carried out these translation projects did not plan or perhaps even anticipate such domestic effects as the establishment of a professional qualification and the creation of literary taste. They were scholars, translators, and publishers who were more immediately concerned with questions specific to their respective disciplines and practices, questions of academic knowledge, aesthetic value, and commercial success.

The history of translation reveals other projects that were designed precisely to form domestic cultural identities by appropriating foreign texts. In these cases, the translations have tended to be highly literary, designed to foster a new literary movement, constructing an authorial subject through an affiliation with a particular literary discourse.

Ezra Pound, for instance, saw translation as a means of cultivating modernist poetic values like linguistic precision. In he published a 'brief recapitulation and retrospect' of the 'new fashion in poetry' in which he offered the aspiring modernist poet a recipe for self-fashioning Pound, 3. The meaning of the poem to be translated can not "wobble"' Pound, 7. Pound fashioned himself as a modernist poettranslator partly by competing against Victorian translators of the poems he valued, imitating yet exceeding them in specific translation choices.

He introduced his translation of Guido Cavalcanti's poetry by admitting that 'in the matter of these translations and of my knowledge of Tuscan poetry, Rossetti is my father and mother, but no man can see everything at once' Anderson, The case of Pound suggests not merely that translation can be instrumental in the construction of an authorial identity, but also that this construction is at once discursive and psychological, worked out in writing practices open to psychoanalytic interpretation.

Pound's translations staged an oedipal rivalry in which he challenged Rossetti's canonical status by translating poetry the Victorian poet had translated, Cavalcanti's idealised representations of women Venuti, In the process Pound defined himself both as modernist and as male. He felt that his translations supplied what had 'escaped' Rossetti, namely 'a robustezza, a masculinity' Anderson, Which is to say that, in his own view, Pound bettered his poetic father in capturing the female image presented by a foreign poetry. Because translation can contribute to the invention of domestic literary discourses, it has inevitably been enlisted in ambitious cultural projects, notably the development of a domestic language and literature.

And such projects have always resulted in the formation of cultural identities aligned with specific social groups, with classes and nations. During the 18th and 19th centuries German translation was theorised and practised as a means of developing a German-language literature. In the philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher pointed out to his scholarly German audience that 'much of what is beautiful and powerful in our language has in part either developed by way of translation or been drawn out by translation' Lefevere, b: Schleiermacher put translation in the service of a bourgeois cultural elite, a largely professional readership which preferred a highly refined German literature grounded in classical texts.

Yet he and contemporaries like Goethe and the Schlegel brothers viewed these minority values as defining a national German culture to the exclusion of various popular genres and texts mainly the sentimental realism, Gothic tales, chivalric romances, and didactic biographies preferred by the largest segment of German-language readers Venuti, In Goethe noted that 'flagging national literatures are revived by the foreign', and he then proceeded to describe the specular mechanism by which a domestic subject is formed in translation: In the end every literature grows bored if it is not refreshed by foreign participation.

What scholar does not delight in the wonders wrought by mirroring and reflection? And what mirroring means in the moral sphere has been experienced by everyone, perhaps unconsciously; and, if one stops to consider, one will realise how much of his own formation throughout life he owes to it. The self-recognition is a recognition of the domestic cultural norms and resources that constitute the self, that define it as a domestic subject.

The process is basically narcissistic: the reader identifies with an ideal projected by the translation, usually values that have achieved authority in the domestic culture and dominate those of other cultural constituencies.


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  8. Sometimes, however, the values may be currently marginal yet ascendant, mobilised in a challenge to the dominant. At Goethe's moment, when the Napoleonic wars threatened to extend French domination into Prussia, a compelling ideal was a nationalist concept of a distinctively German literary culture, underwritten by the translation of canonical foreign texts but still to be realised. As Antoine Berman has remarked of Goethe's thinking, 'foreign literatures become the mediators in the internal conflicts of national literatures and offer them an image of themselves they could not otherwise have', but which, we may add, they nonetheless desire Berman, Hence, the reader's self-recognition is also a misrecognition: a domestic inscription is taken for the foreign text, dominant domestic values for the reader's own, and the values of one constituency for those of all others in the domestic culture.

    Goethe's mention of 'scholar' is a reminder that the subject constructed by this nationalist agenda for translation entails an affiliation with a specific social group, here a minority with sufficient cultural authority to set itself up as the arbiter of a national literature. Translations thus position readers in domestic intelligibilities that are also ideological positions, ensembles of values, beliefs, and representations that further the interests of certain social groups over others.

    In cases where translations are housed in institutions like the church, the state, or the school, the identity-forming process enacted by a translated text potentially affects social reproduction by providing a sense of what is true, good, and possible see Therborn, Translations may maintain existing social relations by investing domestic subjects with the ideological qualification to assume a role or perform a function in an institution. But they may also bring about social change by revising such qualifications and thereby modifying institutional roles or functions.

    Cultural Implications of Translation

    The social impact of a translation depends on its discursive strategies and on its reception, both of which figure in the identity-forming process. Consider the controversies surrounding the translation of the Bible in the early Christian Church. Augustine, bishop of Hippo, feared Jerome's project of translating the Old Testament directly from the Hebrew because it threatened the ideological consistency and institutional stability of the Church.

    Augustine then described an incident which demonstrated that early Christian identity was deeply rooted in the Septuagint and in the Latin translations made from it; to introduce Jerome's translation from the Hebrew would throw this identity into crisis and ultimately play havoc with Church organisation by alienating believers: When one of our fellow bishops arranged for your translation to be read in a church in his diocese, they came across a word in your version of the prophet Jonah which you had rendered very differently from the translation with which they were familiar and which, having been read by so many generations, was ingrained in their memories.

    A great uproar ensued in the congregation, especially among the Greeks who criticised the text and passionately denounced it as wrong, and the bishop the incident took place in the city of Oea was compelled to ask the Jews to give evidence. Whether out of ignorance or spite, they replied that this word did occur in the Hebrew manuscripts in exactly the same form as in the Greek and Latin versions. In short, the man was forced to correct the passage in your version as if it were inaccurate since he did not want this crisis to leave him without a congregation. This makes us suspect that you, too, can be mistaken occasionally.

    White, The Septuagint-based Latin translation used at Oea formed Christian identities by sustaining a self-recognition that defined orthodox belief: members of the congregation recognised themselves as Christians on the basis of an institutionally validated translation that was 'familiar' and 'ingrained in their memories'. The furor caused by Jerome's version from the Hebrew shows that the continued existence of the institution requires a relatively stable process of identity formation enacted not simply by a particular translation, but by the repeated use of it 'read by so many generations'.

    It is also clear that the institution ensures the stability of the identity-forming process by erecting a criterion for translation accuracy: members of the congregation, especially Greeks, judged a Latin version of the Old Testament 'correct' when they found its renderings consistent with the authoritative Greek version, the Septuagint. Yet a cultural practice like translation can also precipitate social change because neither subjects nor institutions can ever be completely coherent or sealed off from the diverse ideologies that circulate in the domestic culture.

    Jerome insisted on a return to the Hebrew text partly because his cultural identity was Latin as well as Christian and distinguished by a highly refined literary taste: educated in Rome, 'he was part of a culture in which sensitivity to a foreign language was an integral element', so that 'he was capable of appreciating the aesthetic merits of works in a language not his own', like the Hebrew Bible Kamesar, 43, Jerome's complicated cultural make-up led him to question the Septuagint: whereas its authority among the Church Fathers rested on a belief in its divine inspiration as well as the Apostles' approval of its use, Jerome's concern for textual integrity and doctrinal authenticity judged it inadequate, flawed by omissions and expansions that reflected the values of its pagan patron and corrupted by variants that accumulated in successive editions Kamesar, Jerome's translation did finally displace the Septuagint, becoming the standard Latin version of the Bible throughout the medieval period and beyond while exerting 'an incalculable influence not only on the piety but on the languages and literatures of western Europe' Kelly, This success was due in large part to Jerome's discursive strategies and to the prefaces and letters in which he defended his version.

    His translation discourse reveals his cultural diversity. On the one hand, he Latinised characteristic features of the Hebrew text by revising simple paratactic constructions into complex suspended periods and by replacing the formulaic repetition of words and phrases with elegant variations Sparks, On the other hand, he Christianised Judaic themes by rewriting 'a large number of passages in such a way as to give them a much more pointedly Messianic or otherwise Christian implication than the Hebrew permitted' Kelly, In adopting such discursive strategies, Jerome's translation appealed to Christians who, like him, were schooled in Latin literary culture.

    In defending his translation, furthermore, he anticipated the objections of such Church officials as Augustine, who feared that a return to the Hebrew text would weaken institutional stability. Although extremely critical of the Septuagint, Jerome shrewdly represented his Latin version not as a replacement, but as a supplement, which, like other Latin versions, would aid in the interpretation of the authoritative Greek translation and 'protect Christians from Jewish ridicule and accusations that they were ignorant of the true Scriptures' Kamesar, Jerome's version was thus presented as an institutional support, assisting in theological and exegetical speculation and in debates with the members of a rival religious institution the synagogue who cast doubt on the cultural authority of Christianity.

    The controversies in the early Christian Church make clear that translations can alter the functioning of any social institution because translating, by definition, involves the domestic assimilation of a foreign text. This means that the work of translation must inescapably rely on cultural norms and resources that differ fundamentally from those circulating in the domestic culture. Thus, as Augustine's letter reported, the bishop at Oea was forced to resort to Jewish informants to assess the correctness of Jerome's version from the Hebrew text, even though the criterion of accuracy viz.

    By the same token, Jerome's departures from the Septuagint occasionally followed other, more literal Greek versions of the Old Testament made by Jews and used in synagogues White, Since the task of translation is to make a foreign text intelligible in domestic terms, the institutions where translations are used become vulnerable to infiltrations from different and even incompatible cultural materials that may controvert authoritative texts and revise prevailing criteria for translation accuracy.

    Perhaps the domestic identities formed by translation can avoid the dislocations of the foreign only when institutions regulate translation practices so restrictively as to efface and hence defuse the linguistic and cultural differences of foreign texts. An Ethics of Translation If translation has such far-reaching social effects, if in forming cultural identities it contributes to social reproduction and change, it seems important to evaluate these effects, to ask whether they are good or bad, or in other words whether the resulting identities are ethical.

    Here Berman's concept of a translation ethics is useful. For Berman, bad translation is ethnocentric: 'generally under the guise of transmissibility, [it] carries out a systematic negation of the strangeness of the foreign work' Berman, 5. Good translation aims to limit this ethnocentric negation by staging 'an opening, a dialogue, a cross-breeding, a decentering' and thereby forcing the domestic language and culture to register the foreignness of the foreign text Berman, 4. A translation ethics, then, cannot be restricted to a notion of fidelity.

    Not only does a translation constitute an interpretation of the foreign text, varying with different cultural situations at different historical moments, but canons of accuracy are articulted and applied in the domestic culture and therefore are basically ethnocentric. The ethical values governed by such canons are generally professional or institutional, established by academic specialists, publishers, and reviewers and assimilated by translators.

    A translation ethics, furthermore, cannot assume that translation can ever rid itself of its fundamental domestication, its basic task of rewriting the foreign text in domestic terms. The problem is rather how to redirect the ethnocentric movement of translation so as to decentre the domestic cultural terms that a translation project must inescapably utilise.

    In the projects we have examined, the identity-forming process was repeatedly grounded in domestic ideologies and institutions. This suggests that they were all engaged in an ethnocentric reduction of possibilities, excluding not only possible representations of foreign cultures, but also possible constructions of domestic subjects. Yet distinctions can be drawn among the projects. The English-language canon of Japanese fiction, for example, was clearly ethnocentric in Berman's bad sense: although it did indeed represent the Japanese texts as foreign, this representation was distinctively American and academic, reflecting a domestic nostalgia for an exotic pre-war Japan, and it marginalised texts that did not exhibit the privileged concept of foreignness.

    To limit the ethnocentric movement inherent in translation, a project must take into account the interests of more than just those of a cultural constituency that occupies a dominant position in the domestic culture. A translation project must consider the culture where the foreign text originated and address various domestic constituencies. Jones's translations of Aristotle truly decentred the reigning academic versions because his project was open to foreign cultural values that were not located in the English-language academy: the features of the archaic Greek text that were repressed by the modern Anglo-American ideology of individualism became visible from the vantage point of the modern Continental philosophy of existentialism, disseminated in philosophical treatises and literary texts.

    A nonethnocentric translation project thus alters the reproduction of dominant domestic ideologies and institutions that misrepresent foreign cultures and marginalise other domestic constituencies. Yet since such a project has the potential to establish a new orthodoxy, it too may eventually come to take on an ethnocentric significance and therefore be subject to displacement by a later nonethnocentric project designed to rediscover a foreign text for a different constituency.

    William Tyndale's English version of the New Testament challenged the authority that Jerome's Latin version had acquired in the Catholic Church, and the challenge was instrumental in forming a different religious identity, the English Protestant. Sir Thomas More was quick to perceive the ideological decentering effected by Tyndale's own return to the Greek text: Tyndale, in More's view, 'changed the word church [ecclesia in the Greek] into this word congregation, because he would bring it in question which were the church and set forth Luther's heresy that the church which we should believe and obey, is not the common known body of all Christian realms remaining in the faith of Christ' Lefevere, b: Nonethnocentric translation reforms cultural identities that occupy dominant positions in the domestic culture, yet in many cases this reformation subsequently issues into another dominance and another ethnocentrism.

    A translation practice that is rigorously nonethnocentric would seem to be highly subversive of domestic ideologies and institutions. It, too, would form a cultural identity, but one that is simultaneously critical and contingent, constantly assessing the relations between a domestic culture and its foreign others and developing translation projects solely on the basis of changing assessments.

    Such projects risk unintelligibility, by decentering domestic ideologies too far, and cultural marginality, by destabilising the workings of domestic institutions. Yet since nonethnocentric translation promises a greater openness to cultural differences, whether they are located abroad or at home, they may well be worth the risks. Acknowledgements My work on this article benefited from conversations with my colleague Daniel Tompkins, professor of Classics at Temple University.

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    White, C. This project takes as its point of departure the misunderstanding, suspicion, and neglect that continue to greet the practice of translation, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom. An important reason for this marginality, I want to argue, is that translation scandalises values that have long dominated Anglo-American culture.